Drought and frost resistance of trees: a comparison of four species at different sites and altitudes

Abstract

Context

Drought and frost resistances are key factors for the survival and distribution of tree species.

Aims

In this study, the vulnerability to drought-induced embolism and frost resistance of four species were analysed, whereby different sites and altitudes were compared and seasonal variation was considered.

Methods

Fagus sylvatica L., Sorbus aucuparia L., Picea abies L. Karst and Larix decidua Mill samples were harvested at high and low altitude sites in France and Austria, respectively, and sampling occurred in winter and summer. Pressure at 50% loss of conductivity (P 50), specific hydraulic conductivity (k s) and temperature lethal for 50% of cells (LT50) were determined, and soluble carbohydrate and starch content were quantified.

Results

No site-, altitude- or season-specific trend in P 50 was observed, except for S. aucuparia, which showed P 50 to decrease with altitude. Within regions, k s tended to decrease with altitudes. LT50 was between −48.4°C (winter) and −9.4°C (summer) and more negative in Tyrolean trees. Starch content was overall lower and carbohydrate content higher in winter than in summer, no site-specific or altitudinal trend was observed.

Conclusion

Studied species obviously differed in their strategies to withstand to frost and drought, so that site-related, altitudinal and seasonal patterns varied.

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Acknowledgements and funding

This study was supported by the “Austrian Academic Exchange Service”, Amadee 2009–2010, “Österreichische HochschülerInnenschaft Innsbruck” and “Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung”. The authors thank the Central Institute for Meterology and Geodynamics (ZAMG, Regionalstelle für Tirol und Vorarlberg) for providing climate data. We also thank the Office National des Forêts for tree samples as well as Pierre Conchon for help with cavitron measurements, Christian Bodet and Christophe Serre for help with LT50, Brigitte Girard, Brigitte Saint-Joanis and Marc Vandame for biochemical analysis as well as Birgit Dämon for assistance during measurements.

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Correspondence to Katline Charra-Vaskou.

Additional information

Katline Charra-Vaskou and Guillaume Charrier have contributed equally to this work.

Contribution of the co-authors

Katline Charra-Vaskou and Guillaume Charrier have contributed equally and largely to this publication from experiments to correction of the manuscript. RémiWortemann, Barbara Beikircher and Hervé Cochard participated in cavitron measurements as well as manuscript preparation. Thierry Améglio was the projectleader of the French part of the Amadee cooperation. Stefan Mayr supervised theAustrian part of the project and prepared important parts of the manuscript.

Handling Editor: Erwin Dreyer

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Charra-Vaskou, K., Charrier, G., Wortemann, R. et al. Drought and frost resistance of trees: a comparison of four species at different sites and altitudes. Annals of Forest Science 69, 325–333 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-011-0160-5

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Keywords

  • Conifer
  • Angiosperm
  • Carbohydrate
  • P 50
  • LT50
  • k s